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John Butcher: The Very Fabric

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John Butcher: The Very Fabric
Recorded in Copenhagen, Denmark, on June 17th 2022, John Butcher's The Very Fabric is welcome and notable for several reasons. Firstly, it is the first release on which he is the sole musician since Nigemizu (Uchimizu Records, 2015), recorded in August 2013. Secondly, at the invitation of Thomas Buhl-Wiggers of the Cejoro festival and label, Butcher recorded The Very Fabric in Copenhagen's Brønshøj Vandtårn, a concrete water tower built about a century ago in the suburbs of the city. Buhl-Wiggers arranged for engineer Jesper Hvild to spend the day inside the tower, recording the pieces with Butcher.

Such Butcher recordings in resonant spaces date back to November 2002 when he recorded four pieces in the Oya Stone Museum in Utsunomiya City, Japan, the results being released on Cavern With Nightlife (World of Wax, 2004). In June 2006, he toured Scotland, recording at locations that included a huge World War II oil tank, a Victorian mausoleum and an underground reservoir, the recordings of which can be heard on Resonant Spaces (World of Wax, 2018).

Despite Butcher being the only musician on such recordings, they should not be called solo recordings, as the locations themselves contribute sounds, and the saxophonist reacts to and interacts with those sounds, at times sounding like a duo playing call-and-response. At twenty metres wide and thirty-four metres high, Brønshøj Vandtårn is somewhat smaller than some of the spaces Butcher has played and recorded in, but he says that it has a large, lingering reverberation.

The album comprises eleven tracks with a total playing time of forty-seven minutes, ranging from "Summer Incantation" at 1:42 to "Sympathetic Magic (concrete)" at 6:37. Those durations may sound short for an entire day of Butcher and Hvild's time in the water tower, yet they are a reminder that such recordings are not straightforward but need careful painstaking work for each one. Butcher says this of his recordings in resonant spaces, "They each inspired different approaches in trying to find the music for the actual space, and this recent experience within the extraordinary Brønshøj water tower was no exception." As a result, there is a great variety of sound and music from track to track so there is never a dull moment in the entire album. For example, "Sympathetic Magic (concrete)" is the only track on which Butcher uses feedback with his saxophone; as a result, it has its own ethereal ambiance which at times is somewhat reminiscent of a horror movie soundtrack. As a contrast, "Very Hush Hush" lives up to its title, with Butcher opting for quieter sounds that reverberate around the space repeatedly.

Butcher aficionados will need no encouragement to seek out this fascinating album; newcomers to the saxophonist can begin here with confidence. This is one of Butcher's best.

Track Listing

Shimmers of Connect i; Shimmers of Connect ii; Shimmers of Connect iii; Sympathetic Magic (concrete); Elusive Sidestep; Signs and Symptoms; Far Flung; Summer Incantation; Very Hush Hush; Laval; On Springs.

Personnel

John Butcher
saxophone
Additional Instrumentation

John Butcher: feedback (4); soprano saxophone; tenor saxophone.

Album information

Title: The Very Fabric | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Hitorri


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